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Spider-Man (Dreamcast)
MSRP: $49.99
Number of Players: 1
Developer: Neversoft/Treyarch
Publisher: Activision

Rating:
****
out of
*****

Dreamcast owners finally get the chance to play one of 2000's best action games, courtesy of Treyarch. The developers of the Dreamcast version of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 have ported last year's PlayStation and Nintendo 64 game to the venerable Sega Dreamcast. Better late than never, I guess. The good news is that the game retains all of the qualities that made it such a fun game on those older systems. The bad news is that those frustrating camera problems have also been faithfully translated as well.

Spider-Man puts the player in the role of everyone's favorite wall-crawling superhero. As the game begins, a Spider-Man imposter makes off with one of Doctor Octavius' new inventions that's being showcased at an exhibit. In an effort to keep his name clear, Spider-Man must act quickly. For some reason, many of Spider-Man's enemies have chosen this particular day to be active, including the Rhino, Scorpion, and Venom. Some of Spidey's friends make cameos too, like DareDevil, Black Cat and the Human Torch.

The game's levels are all broken down into different sections, usually one that involves some swinging from building to building, then some fighting or pursuing, and then a boss battle. There's just enough variety in each level to keep things from getting dull or repetitive. The odd puzzle element is thrown in from time to time, but these are the exception to the rule and most of them are not terribly difficult. Keeping the player's frustration level to a minimum seems to have been a goal of the game's programmers. Spider-Man includes Hard, Normal, Easy and Kid difficulty selections and that makes the game an excellent choice for gamers of all skill levels.

Since Spider-Man is a port from the PlayStation version, the graphics do not take advantage of the Dreamcast's capabilities. That's not to say the game doesn't look better on the Dreamcast, because it does; it just doesn't look like a late generation Dreamcast game. Only the textures have really been improved, with a nice, solid 30 fps framerate giving the game a fluidity it lacked on the PlayStation. Still, one wonders what a true Dreamcast specific version of the game could have accomplished. Oh, well. I guess I should be happy the game made it to the Dreamcast at all.

In the sound department, Spider-Man shines thanks to top-notch voice work and music. Stan Lee, the mind behind the Marvel Universe, is his usual, enthusiastic self as he narrates the action. The voices of the individual characters are all first-rate as well. Some of the dialogue is classic, especially that of Venom. Sound effects, such as punching and kicking noises, fit right into the comic book world that's been created here. The music is also quite good, with the opening theme taking a cue from the old cartoon series theme. The background music is unobtrusive and appropriate.

Controlling the game isn't hard at all. Spider-Man can climb, swing, shoot various types of webs, punch, kick and pull off a few fighting moves with relative ease. The only real problem with control involves the game's camera, which sometimes makes it difficult to figure out either a) where Spidey is or b) where he's going. Since Spider-Man can climb walls and ceilings, the camera appears to get disoriented and this belies the game's "frustration-free" nature. It's not a fatal flaw, but a glaring one nonetheless. If this could have been fixed for the Dreamcast version, I might have even accepted the game with the same graphics as the PlayStation version.

Overall, Spider-Man is a great action game with enough variety to guarantee it should find a prime spot in your Dreamcast library. However, if you've already played through the PlayStation or Nintendo 64 version of the game, it's really not different enough to warrant another purchase. If you've yet to experience it, and you've got a Dreamcast, this version is the one to buy. Don't let the camera flaws dissuade you. As superhero games go, Spider-Man is at the top of the heap.

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